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05/25/2007

Focus on your 'definitions'

by Jeremy Hooper

The following is from Focus on the Family's CitizenLink "news" site (highlighting our own):

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the New York Department of Civil Service, alleging the agency exceeded its authority when it redefined the term "spouse" in its benefits policy to include homosexual couples.

Brian Raum, senior legal counsel for ADF, said the agency's definition includes same-sex couples married in another country or state where the marriage was legal –
despite the fact that New York law defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Only problem? That last line is complete and utter bullsh*t! In fact, New York is one of only a handful of states without a law or constitutional amendment "defining" marriage as the union of one man and one woman! And it's not just an error from Focus on the Family's writer; Raum conveys the same fallacy in his press release on the subject, saying (again, highlighting our own):

Because marriage is defined as the legal union of one man and one woman, the New York State Department of Civil Service has no legal authority to recognize out-of-state same-sex ‘marriages.’”

Again -- bulls*t! The Court of Appeals ruled in 2006 that the state's constitution does not require same-sex marriage. They found that as it currently stands, the institution is limited to only opposite-sex couples, and that disallowing gay couples does not violate the state constitution. However, that court also determined it was up to the legislature to "define" marriage, something that the lawmakers have not done! So at this point, we gay New Yorkers do not have the freedom to marry, but the concept is not definitely "defined" as male/female.

Of all people, you would think a lawyer trying to fight a NY-specific, marriage-centric policy would know this.

Now, these differences and this Focus/ADF misrepresentation may seem slight to some of you. However, it is a MAJOR difference and deceitful error. For unlike in other states, NY does not have an amendment or a DOMA law that must be overturned. We New Yorkers simply have to prove to our citizens, lawmakers, judges, and officials that the court erred, and that denying us the right to marry is unlawful! We are trying to eliminate the restriction, not rid the state of a specific "definition" that has been placed upon it by social conservatives. In terms of the marriage "fight," it is a whole other battle than in a state with such "definitions."

Whether an error or a deliberate misrepresenation, both Focus and ADF need to issue a clear correction. We are writing both Mr. Raum and Wendy Cloyd (the Focus writer). We'll keep you posted as to what they have to say.

Suit Challenges New York's Attempt to Redefine Marriage [CitizenLink]
ADF attorneys file suit to stop N.Y. agency from circumventing marriage laws [ADF]

**It should be noted that marriage "definitions" are typically concepts supported only by our opposition. As a great thinker on the subject just reminded us, "marriage is not defined by who can't participate."

**UPDATE, 5/30: Focus on your 'definitions': Take Two [G-A-Y]

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